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Sauces for Salmon

Sauces have been livening up our culinary repertoire since… forever. Or to be more precise, somewhere around the Middle Ages. Regardless, they’ve long been used to give our food that extra element, bringing otherwise bland dishes to life. A well-executed sauce doesn’t just add flavour though – there’s texture, aroma and colour too. They just sort of seem to tie things together!

Salmon, of course, goes with a great many different sauces. So we thought we’d bring you our thoughts on a few of our go-to choices – some you’ve probably heard of and some that might be new to you.

Crowd pleasing sauces

Of course there are plenty of familiar favourites that pair well with salmon; garlic butter sauce, teriyaki or hollandaise to name just a few (the latter being more for your inner masterchef). For now though, let’s dive right on in with a classic hollandaise recipe followed by our take on teriyaki.

Hollandaise Sauce

The ingredients:

Two large free range egg yolks

Unsalted butter-  140g

White wine vinegar- 1tbsp

Lemon juice- 1/2 lemon

Salt and pepper (to taste)

The method:

  1. Place the egg yolks and vinegar into a metal bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Next put the bowl over a pan of simmering water making sure its base is not touching the water. Whisk the egg yolks until light and fluffy (be careful not to over cook the eggs as they may scramble!).
  3. Remove the eggs from the heat.
  4. Melt the butter in a pan making sure not to burn it.
  5. When the butter has melted, pour it into a warm jug.
  6. With a  balloon whisk, start to whisk the eggs slowly adding the butter (it should be a slow steady trickle).
  7. Finish by whisking in the lemon juice and taste for seasoning.

Teriyaki Sauce

This is a slight take on Teriyaki. (Teriyaki usually consists of 4 ingredients Soy, Sake, Mirin and sugar) However, we have cut the sugar with honey which gives the sauce a great flavour and finished it with lime which gives the sauce a touch of acidity.

The ingredients:

Soy sauce (kikkoman)

Honey- 50g

Brown sugar- 50g

Mirin- 100ml

Ginger peeled and finely chopped- 12g or 1tbsp

Lime juice-  ½ lime

The method:

  1. Place the soy, honey, sugar, mirin and ginger in a sauce pan and simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly.
  2. Add the lime juice and remove from the heat.

Pesto too, if you consider it a sauce, makes a fantastic combination with those fleshy pink fillets – a generous dollop on top and popped in the oven for -20  minutes, or thereabouts, is as easy as it is tasty. Not to forget tartare sauce – so easily whipped up at home with only a few ingredients. Just start with some mayonnaise and mix in chopped capers and lemon juice for a simple yet delicious chip shop fave.

Watercress sauce is a hands-down winner when it comes to quality salmon. It’s one that not everybody knows but, for us, fits squarely under the ‘crowd pleaser’ category. This one’s of moderate difficulty, so you don’t have to be an absolute expert. Just know your way around the kitchen. Here goes:

Watercress Sauce

The ingredients:

Shallots peeled and finely chopped- 50g

Fish stock or water- 150ml

Butter- 40g

Flour- 20g

Salt & Pepper to taste

Watercress finely chopped (discard any thick woody stalks)- 50g

Double cream- 150ml

Lemon juice- 1/2 lemon

Dijon mustard (optional)- 1 tsp

The method:

  1. In a heavy based saucepan melt the butter and add the shallots. Season with salt and pepper then cook the shallots on a medium to low heat until they’re soft.
  2. Add the flour and cook on a low heat for 1 minute.
  3. Heat up the fish stock or water (either in a microwave or a pan) and add to the shallots.
  4. Stir until the sauce is smooth and then add the rest of the stock and cream.
  5. Simmer for 4-5 minutes until the sauce starts to thickens and it reaches a good consistency.
  6. Stir in the mustard (if using) then add the watercress and lemon juice.
  7. Place the sauce into a food blender and pulse several times.
  8. Taste and adjust the sauce with a touch more lemon juice and/or salt if needed.

Something a little different

But what about the path less travelled? It’s getting easier and easier to discover exciting new flavours and cuisines and get our hands on the ingredients we need to make them. For example we might turn to more unusual means to pair with salmon – things like vinaigrettes, mayonnaise based dressings, salsas, broths, stews, casseroles, glazes, chutneys, relishes or even a flavoured butter. Lemon dressing is super easy. Not to mention super tasty. Here’s how we like to do it…

Lemon Dressing

The ingredients:

Lemon juice- 30g

Sunflower oil- 30g

Olive oil- 60g

Salt- Pinch

Sugar- Pinch

The method:

  1. Place all the ingredients into a bowl and gently whisk to emulsify.
  2. This is the base for so many dressings. Essentially you have in the dressing – acidity, oil, salt and sweetness which can all be chopped and changed. For example, the lemon juice can be replaced with lime juice or vinegar. The oil could be replaced with sesame or walnut oil. The sugar could be replaced with honey and the salt could be replaced with soy or anchovy paste.
  3. Once you have made the basic recipe you can add other ingredients such as capers, herbs, mustard. Get experimenting!

Salmon is such a versatile fish that we’re always encouraging our customers to go out and surprise themselves by trying something new with it. For example, our contemporary twist on a classic such as salmon, spinach and hollandaise. Why not give it an eastern flavour by replacing the spinach with sautéed or steamed pak choi? Then add a spoonful of miso and a pinch of dried seaweed to the hollandaise, finishing it off with a splash of yuzu or lime juice.

Of course there’s always the good old lemon vinaigrette. Why not give it an extra dimension by adding a spoonful of wholegrain mustard – or even switching up the lemon for a lime or grapefruit. Alternatively, adding chopped herbs, using an alternative oil or replacing the sugar with honey are all things that can take your vinaigrette into another direction entirely. It’s all about trying things and pushing the boundaries to find out what new and surprising results you can get.

MOWI’s Top Tips

A recipe is all well and good but sometimes you need that crucial know-how to feel confident and make a success of your cooking. Here’s a few priceless tips from our experts here at MOWI to help you do just that…

Sauce specific tips

  • While cooking a sauce, season at the start – tasting and adding as necessary along the way.
  • If you’re making a large batch of sauce which can be frozen (e.g. tomato, curry or pesto sauce), divide it into portion size containers and label with a name and date. The date helps to rotate the sauces (so you can use the oldest ones first) and the name helps you identify what you’ve got (as once they’re frozen they can often look the same).
  • Some sauces are best made the day before you plan to eat them (curries or stews for example). It gives time for spices and herbs to develop and balance out.
  • The beauty of a base sauce is that you can make it as simple or as complex as you want it to be. You might try drying your own tomatoes or marinating olives in certain flavours
  • When making a sauce, it’s a good idea to start with a base. For example, make a good tomato or fish sauce and freeze it down – then when it comes to cooking, the rest is just assembly.

Know your onions

  • Onions, are key ingredient in many different sauces. Cook them low and slow and salt them right at the beginning. This breaks down the enzymes, helps soften them up and reduces the sugar content.
  • Always make sure to reduce those onions right down first this way all the natural sugars are released. After all, no one likes the taste of raw onion.

General prep

  • Always read the whole recipe before starting. You don’t want any surprises!
  • Have everything prepared before starting to cook. The super-organised will set out all the ingredients in order of cooking too.
  • Another thing to do before starting – boil the kettle. It often comes in handy, especially with sauces. For example if your sauce is getting too thick, just add a touch of water. Too much water? No problem, just cook the sauce a bit longer to boil it off. You can even use a splash of boiling water to keep your onions from burning.
  • Take into account the size and quality of the sauce pan. This will have an impact on how quickly a sauce reduces or how long it takes to cook ingredients like onions. Heavy-based sauce pans tend to retain heat better and more evenly and help prevent sauces from burning.
  • If you’re cooking for a dinner party, try to take a test run beforehand to make sure you’ve got the recipe down ahead of the big night.

Feeling inspired to try out some new sauces with your MOWI salmon fillets or smoked salmon slices? We’ve got you covered. Just head over to our salmon recipes and take your pick . There’s plenty of styles and mouth-watering dishes to choose from. As always we’d love to hear any suggestions via the MOWI social channels.

Good luck and good eating!

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